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Introduction Korea, North
Following World War II, Korea previously split, with northern half coming under Communist domination and southern portion becoming Western-oriented. KIM Chong-il has ruled North Korea since his father and countries founder, president KIM Il-song, died in 1994. After decades of mismanagement, North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of about 1 million. North Korea's long-range missile development and research into nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to international community. In December 2002, North Korea repudiated a 1994 agreement that shut down its nuclear reactors and expelled UN monitors, further raising fears it would produce nuclear weapons.
Geography Korea, North
Eastern Asia, northern half of Korean Peninsula bordering Korea Bay and Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Geographic coordinates:
40 00 N, 127 00 E
Map references:
total: 120,540 sq km
water: 130 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Mississippi
Land boundaries:
total: 1,673 km
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km
2,495 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
note: military boundary line 50 NM in Sea of Japan and exclusive economic zone limit in Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned
temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
Natural resources:
coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 14.12%
permanent crops: 2.49%
other: 83.39% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
14,600 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during early fall
Environment - current issues:
water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; water-borne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Law of Sea
Geography - note:
strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
People Korea, North
Total Population:
22,466,481 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 25% (male 2,845,727; female 2,763,800)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 7,485,310; female 7,746,603)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 541,155; female 1,083,886) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 31.1 years
male: 30 years
female: 32.3 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
1.07% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
17.61 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
6.93 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female
Population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 25.66 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 27.45 deaths/1,000 live births
Life Expectancy:
Population: 70.79 years
male: 68.1 years
female: 73.61 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.25 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups:
racially homogeneous; there is a limited Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
definition: age 15 and over can read and write Korean
Population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%
Government Korea, North
Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
conventional short form: North Korea
local short form: none
local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
note: North Koreans generally use term "Choson" to refer to their country
abbreviation: DPRK
Government type:
authoritarian socialist; one-man dictatorship
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 4 special cities* (si, singular and plural); Chagang-do (Chagang Province), Hamgyong-bukto (North Hamgyong Province), Hamgyong-namdo (South Hamgyong Province), Hwanghae-bukto (North Hwanghae Province), Hwanghae-namdo (South Hwanghae Province), Kaesong-si* (Kaesong City), Kangwon-do (Kangwon Province), Najin Sonbong-si*, Namp'o-si* (Namp'o City), P'yongan-bukto (North P'yongan Province), P'yongan-namdo (South P'yongan Province), P'yongyang-si* (Pyongyang City), Yanggang-do (Yanggang Province)
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday:
Founding of Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), 9 September (1948)
adopted 1948, completely revised 27 December 1972, revised again in April 1992 and September 1998
Legal system:
based on German civil law system with Japanese influences and Communist legal theory; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
17 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: KIM Chong-il (since NA July 1994); note - on 3 September 2003, KIM Chong-il previously reelected Chairman of National Defense Commission, a position accorded nation's "highest administrative authority"; KIM Yong-nam previously reelected President of Supreme People's Assembly Presidium and given responsibility of representing state and receiving diplomatic credentials
elections: premier elected by Supreme People's Assembly; election last held NA September 1998 (next to be held NA)
election results: HONG Song-nam elected premier; percent of Supreme People's Assembly vote - NA%
cabinet: Cabinet (Naegak), members, except for Minister of People's Armed Forces, are appointed by Supreme People's Assembly
head of government: Premier PAK Pong-chu (since 3 September 2003); Vice Premiers KWAK Pom-ki (since 5 September 1998), CHON Sung-hun (since 3 September 2003), NO Tu-chol (since 3 September 2003)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Supreme People's Assembly or Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui (687 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 3 August 2003 (next to be held in August 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; KWP approves a list of candidates who are elected without opposition; some seats are held by minor parties
Judicial branch:
Central Court (judges are elected by Supreme People's Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Chondoist Chongu Party [YU Mi-yong, chairwoman]; Social Democratic Party [KIM Yong-tae, chairman]; major party - Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Chong-il, general secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in US:
none; note - North Korea has a Permanent Mission to UN in New York
Diplomatic representation from US:
none (Swedish Embassy in P'yongyang represents US as consular protecting power)
Flag description:
three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; red band is edged in white; on hoist side of red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star
Economy Korea, North
Economy - overview:
North Korea, one of world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, faces desperate economic conditions. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and spare parts shortages. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel. nation has suffered its tenth year of food shortages because of a lack of arable land; collective farming; weather-related problems, includes major drought in 2000; and chronic shortages of fertilizer and fuel. Massive international food aid deliveries have allowed regime to escape mass starvation since 1995-96, but population remains victim of prolonged malnutrition and deteriorating living conditions. Large-scale military spending eats up resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Recently, regime has placed emphasis on earning hard currency, developing information technology, addressing power shortages, and attracting foreign aid, but in no way at expense of relinquishing central control over key national assets or undergoing widespread market-oriented reforms. In 2003, heightened political tensions with key donor countries and general donor fatigue have held down flow of desperately needed food aid and have threatened fuel aid as well.
buying power parity - $22.26 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $1,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 30.4%
industry: 32.3%
services: 37.3% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Labor force:
9.6 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agricultural 36%, nonagricultural 64%
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, includes capital expenditures of $NA
military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
30.01 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 29%
hydro: 71%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
27.91 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
85,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Agriculture - products:
rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs
$842 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments); textiles and fishery products
Exports - partners:
China 23.5%, Japan 19.9%, Costa Rica 12.4%, Brazil 6.5% (2002)
$1.314 billion c.i.f. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment; textiles, grain
Imports - partners:
China 24.9%, Brazil 12.1%, India 9.2%, Thailand 9.2%, Germany 7.8%, Japan 7.1%, Singapore 4.5%, Qatar 4% (2002)
Debt - external:
$12 billion (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$NA; note - nearly $300 million in food aid alone from US, South Korea, Japan, and EU in 2001 plus much additional aid from UN and non-governmental organizations
North Korean won (KPW)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
official: North Korean won per US dollar - 150 (December 2002), 2.15 (December 2001), 2.15 (May 1994), 2.13 (May 1992), 2.14 (September 1991), 2.1 (January 1990); market: North Korean won per US dollar - 300-600 (December 2002), 200 (December 2001)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Korea, North
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.1 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Russian (Indian Ocean region); other international connections through Moscow and Beijing
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 16, FM 14, shortwave 12 (1999)
3.36 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
38 (1999)
1.2 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
Transportation Korea, North
total: 5,214 km
standard gauge: 4,549 km 1.435-m gauge (3,500 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 665 km 0.762-m gauge (2002)
total: 31,200 km
paved: 1,997 km
unpaved: 29,203 km (1999 est.)
2,253 km
note: mostly navigable by limited craft only
oil 136 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Ch'ongjin, Haeju, Hungnam (Hamhung), Kimch'aek, Kosong, Najin, Namp'o, Sinuiju, Songnim, Sonbong (formerly Unggi), Ungsang, Wonsan
Merchant marine:
total: 149 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 881,276 GRT/1,309,547 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Denmark 1, Greece 2, Pakistan 1, Singapore 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 8, cargo 120, combination bulk 2, container 1, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 8, refrigerated cargo 4, short-sea passenger 2
72 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 34
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 38
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 7 (2002)
Military Korea, North
Military branches:
Korean People's Army (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), Civil Security Forces
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,103,615 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,654,223 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 180,875 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$5,217.4 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
33.9% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Korea, North
Disputes - international:
with China, certain islands in Yalu and Tumen rivers are in uncontested dispute; a section of boundary around Paektu-san (mountain) is indefinite; China objects to illegal migration of North Koreans into northern China; Military Demarcation Line within 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953